James A. Guest, JD became President and Chief Executive Officer of Consumers Union (CU) in February 2001 after a long career in public service and the consumer interest, including 21 years as Chair of CU's Board of Directors. CU publishes Consumer Reports and ConsumerReports.org. The organization was founded in 1936 when advertising first flooded the mass media. Consumers lacked any reliable source of information they could depend on to help them distinguish hype from fact and good products from bad ones. Since then CU has filled that vacuum with a broad range of consumer information and a succession of presidents serving as passionate and outspoken consumer champions. Mr. Guest continues that tradition, fighting on Capitol Hill and in the media for the consumer's right to know about, and be protected from, unsafe and misleading products and services. Under his leadership, the organization is currently pursuing a high-profile campaign to improve the safety, quality, accessibility, and value of the health-care marketplace. This has included the successful launch of several new initiatives such as ConsumerReportsHealth.org and the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, which serve to educate and empower consumers to make more informed health-care decisions and to help change the market. Mr. Guest also is the President of Consumers International, a global federation of 250 organizations from 115 countries.
Mr. Guest's public service career has spanned more than three decades. After graduating from Harvard law school and completing a Woodrow Wilson fellowship in economics at MIT, he worked as legislative assistant to Senator Ted Kennedy. In the early 1970s, Mr. Guest moved to Vermont where he served as Banking and Insurance Commissioner, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Development and Community Affairs. Over the last 20 years, he has headed several public policy and advocacy groups including Handgun Control Inc. and the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, as well as Planned Parenthood of Maryland. He was also the founding Executive Director of the American Pain Foundation, a national consumer information, education, and advocacy organization for pain prevention and management. Mr. Guest credits his very first job for introducing him to one of his biggest influences in consumer advocacy. He worked as the paperboy for Dr. Colston Warne—the first Chair of CU's Board of Directors and a leader in the consumer movement.